The colorful Youth Asia Cup being staged in Sri Lanka for the first time with eight teams from the Asian hemisphere quite an attraction decking the city of Colombo in an array of dainty national outfit, heads for what on the form book holds out to be two absorbing semi finals today Tuesday December 20. Indeed, Asian cricket has journeyed to Sri Lanka as the heartthrob capturing the pulse of youth of this 21 million populace. From reigning champions India to hosts Sri Lanka, Nepal and Malaysia in that order occupying the championship Group A points table to Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Singapore respectively in Group B, it has been the adrenaline generating game of cricket that has caught the imagination of the cricket loving youth in this host country besides the fans in this December tail-end of 2016 that passages international cricket in the island nation looking to the New Year 2017. Indeed cricket has been the winner in this highly absorbing bat-ball contest that has at large across the globe enveloped millions of fans, most to whom the game is second religion.
With the two semi finalist draws seeing reigning champions India in the hot seat playing Afghanistan in the first semi final today in a day-night at the R. Premadasa Stadium, and hosts Sri Lanka meeting Bangladesh on Wednesday also in a day-night second semi final at the same venue, the gallop to the finals holds out much fare. Certainly, India with three straight wins in Group A does look the favourite to take the title once again with hosts Sri Lanka with two wins from three outings and opponents Bangladesh also with a similar ratio squared up where it could be anybody’s game. Analytically, India has played the type of imaginative cricket that has put the reigning champions a step away from the trophy glitter. Of course, hats off to the youths from Afghanistan who have dished out some lusty cricket to enter the semis with two wins from three outings. It is praiseworthy of the youth of the war torn country who have in doing so displayed the latent talent in that country where apparently cricket gas sowed its seeds strongly among the youth; a factor also showcased by the Afghanistan mainstream team that has come of age at the top level in ODI cricket having defeated a few heavyweights in world cup cricket.
Meanwhile, hosts Sri Lanka, skippered by the inspirational spin bowler, Kamindu Mendis, who is a rare find for his ability to alternatively bowl with both arms, has done well to make it to the semi finals. Mendis’ charges, apart from the loss to India, has performed to expectations in raising hope of a finalist berth. Of course, Bangladesh, whose youth cricket is on a high, are no pushovers and it promises to be n absorbing contest with Sri Lanka holding a slight edge.
By Srian Obeyesekere
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-